Advent 1: Happy New Year

Happy new year!

 

With the preparations for the birth of Christ, this season of Advent, the new year begins. The King is coming! Are you prepared? While this season of Advent involves preparation for family and friends, it also involves the preparations of the King. We often hear how we are to be prepared for the coming Savior. How can we be prepared, particularly in a time of abundant activity? The relationships with friends and family are important. They are a part of Advent preparations. Yet Advent is primarily about preparing for the coming King who took on flesh to bear it to the cross. He took on flesh never to leave it behind, but by His flesh to bear our iniquity. We prepare in Advent for Christ. Yet, once again, how do we prepare for Him?

That preparation is made today, the first day of the Church’s Year, through meditation on His ride into Jerusalem to die. It has not been arranged sequentially, chronologically, but theologically. Advent, which simply means “He comes.” Advent is the time of preparation for the coming of the Christ. But it is much more than what we often think of in merely the historical remembrance. 

Here Jesus comes, riding on a donkey. Here comes the one who heals diseases, casts out demons, feeds thousands, gives sight to the blind, makes the deaf hear, and preaches repentance. Here comes the King, entering as Solomon did in 1st Kings chapter 1 so that there is no doubt who is King.

“Hosanna!” Which means “save us now, Lord.”

 

That’s the name in which He comes, in the name of the Lord. As Jeremiah proclaimed, the Lord is our righteousness. He comes as the branch of Jesse’s stem, as beautifully depicted on our Advent banner in the back, the Christ who comes to give life from a seemingly cut off tree. He comes as our righteousness because on our own we have no righteousness, we repeatedly live unrighteously, serving ourselves rather than God and our neighbor. He comes to be your righteousness still, that is the good news of Advent. 

This Advent season is a time to reflect. A time to take our eyes off the world and things of the world, for they can’t save you, and look at the King of Kings who comes to grant you an answer to shouts of “Hosanna!” and saves you. Advent is a time to shout “hosanna, save us, Lord” in repentance and faith.

Behold, a King comes for you. Righteous and having salvation. Behold, your king comes to ride on to death and resurrection to save you. 

Two questions are asked this season that need to be answered: one asks, what’s in your wallet? While the other asks what’s in your heart? One has done all the clever advertising and packaging to make it as attractive as possible in hopes you go take it but only for certain hours, the other offers what you need even when you don’t want it and keeps it available at all times. Both are voices calling out to you: “behold, new technology, new toys, bigger and better things,” the other cries out, “have mercy, save me, Lord.”

So sing it out, “hosanna, blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.” It is our Advent prayer that we sing as we prepare to receive Christ’s body and blood. He rides on to the cross to save you and here gives you the fruits of His death to forgive you and save you. 

So what do we do from here? The same as what those in the past have done. We spread our cloaks on the road and let Him walk over them. These cloaks are what Isaiah the prophet refers to as the polluted garments of our righteous deeds. We confess our sins and lay them under His feet that He may trample over them. He loves to trample over our sins. He loves for you to recall your baptism. He rejoices in the words of Absolution spoken to you. He is overjoyed in you receiving His meal here today. He is delighted in the delivering of the forgiveness of sins because He trampled and stamped them out in His holy and bloody passion. Christ is the gift giver as He comes to you and He has so much to give to you. Our Advent King comes to us forgiving our sins and keeping His promises. He rides into a receptive crowd now, but the shouts of “crucify Him” will come quickly and for that He moves forward so you can enter eternal life blessed and in the name of the Lord. Now, watch our King this Advent season as He fulfills all He has promised you. He comes, to save you. Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord. Amen.

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